By Rosalind Lapin
Photos By Starla Fortunato/Jim Cox
Make Up By Kriz Crane
Once again, The Pasadena Playhouse has its finger on the pulse of contemporary society as it splendidly highlights the permeation of half-century-old societal stigmas into modern-day life with its sparkling new feature, A Song at Twilight. Simply put, the rarely produced part of Noël Coward’s polished trilogy Suite in Three Keys not only proves to be a triumphant end to playwright Coward’s truly remarkable career, but as it turns out, is also a fascinating measure against, which we are able to see just how much and how just little, we have changed over the past fifty-odd years.
The Los Angeles Times dubs the masterpiece starring Bruce Davison, Sharon Lawrence and Roxanne Hart as a “stunning production directed by Art Manke…sumptuously designed and a supremely well-acted production [that] makes a case for this being an overlooked gem in the Coward canon!”
Although the first rate ensemble-cast is working together for the first time and the audiences are rumored to laugh easily, the story is deeply thought provoking and highlights both gently and profoundly those social issues that remain unresolved for so many. When Davison’s Latymer reluctantly accepts a surprise visit from his former mistress, Carlotta, the elderly gentleman and closeted writer’s buried secrets, forbidden homosexual affections and surprising confessions of a lifelong struggle play out on stage for all to see as Carlotta attempts to seek permission to publish the love letters he wrote to her some 40 years ago.
We caught up with Lawrence, an Emmy-award winner, well-loved actress and Los Angelino, before the show’s Opening Night. We chatted about her character’s role in exposing how Latymer’s deep fear of intimacy and public ridicule kept him from embracing the one true love in his life. She aptly described the play as having the usual “Coward cleverness, but also holding a more profound meaning reminding us of the vibrant nature and level of graciousness in Coward’s work.” It is interesting, she pointed out, to think that at the time A Song at Twilight was first written in 1966, homosexuality was still illegal in the United Kingdom.
Lawrence also spoke passionately of the importance of art as a medium through which to bring attention to important social issues, and of her long-standing relationship with The Pasadena Playhouse. Their partnership has seen much success over the years and she emphasized particularly the importance and willingness of the historic performing arts venue to consistently embrace an array of important and meaningful cultural issues in its productions. As it turns out, Lawrence is well known for many a philanthropic enterprise of her own, so her involvement in this particular play is quite fitting. She is the Chair of the Women in Film Foundation and also the non-profit arm of Women in Film, which since 1973 has advanced professional opportunities for women in the global entertainment marketplace.
Lawrence is obviously no stranger to the stage, which is where it all began for her on Broadway in 1987. She has since appeared in the role of Sylvia in TV’s groundbreaking “NYPD Blue” for six seasons, garnering three Emmy nominations and headlined “Fired Up,” “Ladies Man” and “Moon Lake” as well as guest starred in many other series, including the current “Rizzoli and Isles.” Most recently, Lawrence has been working on the much-anticipated thriller drama series The After set to premiere on Amazon Studios this year.
As always, The Pasadena Playhouse’s combination of talent and theater space is eloquent, full of energy and greatly charming. It is evident that A Song at Twilight is not only an incredible artistic collaboration, but also a celebration of witty senses of humor, stinging words and the interplay of genuine human affection. Nestled in the foothills of Pasadena, this is a perfect Sunday treat dusted with a bit of old-fashioned grace and definitely a “must see” for all!
A Song at Twilight is playing through April 13 at The Pasadena Playhouse, located at 39 South El Molino Avenue.
Photo 1: Sharon Lawrence stars in A Song For Twilight at The Pasadena Playhouse (Photo: Starla Fortunato, Make Up by Kriz Crane), Photo 2: Twilight’s Sharon Lawrence and Bruce Davison (Photo: Jim Cox), Photo 3: Twilight’s Sharon Lawrence, Bruce Davison, and Roxanne Hart (Photo: Jim Cox), Photo 4: The Pasadena Playhouse (Photo: Courtesy of The Pasadena Playhouse)